A Trail of Love Crumbs

I used to read- a LOT.

By that I mean I often had five or six books going at a time and typically finished four in a week.

Since Dominic ran ahead to heaven I find I rarely have the attention span for books anymore.

But every now and then I find a book that can hold my attention and I read like I used to-carrying it with me from the kitchen (where I read as I wait for cookies to come out of the oven) to the bathtub (where I read as I soak my achy joints).

EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON (and other lies I love to believe) by Kate Bowler is one of those books.

everything happens for a reason book

I heard an interview of Kate on an NPR program while driving.  She had me in tears and rolling in laughter all at the same time.

And this bargain loving, never-pay-full-price mama came straight into the house and ordered the hardback book off Amazon.

It lived up to every expectation.  I felt like I was sitting across from someone who truly “gets it”.

The author is not a bereaved parent but is living with Stage IV metastatic colon cancer.  Her life is, as she describes it, “Stuck in present tense.

So, so many nuggets of wisdom and truth hidden in these pages.

But the one that resonated with my heart the most is this:

My little plans [thoughtful gifts, words and actions] are crumbs scattered on the ground.  This is all I have learned about living here, plodding along, and finding God.  My well-laid plans are no longer my foundation.  I can only hope that my dreams, my actions, my hopes are leaving a trail for Zach [my son] and Toban [my husband], so, whichever way the path turns, all they will find is Love.

When I read it, I nearly shouted aloud, “THAT’S IT!!!”

Her heart sings the same song as mine.

Very few of us will do great things, remembered in history books or blazoned across the front of granite edifices.

Most of us will only do small things.

But we can do them with great love.

not all of us can do great things typewriter

Dominic left this earth before he even had a chance to do great things.  Twenty-three years taken up by growing to adulthood and going to college and then law school left little time for solving the world’s big problems.

But he left a trail of love crumbs.

One that can be followed from his heart to dozens of others.

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That’s what I want my legacy to be:  A trail of love crumbs. 

I want tiny bits of me scattered far and wide-a wild and winding path made by relentlessly giving away all I am and all I have.

My name won’t be engraved anywhere but on my tombstone.  

But I pray my love is engraved on many hearts.  

the answer is still and again love

 

 

Love in Action: Some Things Hurt

Bereavement has not made me a perfectly compassionate person.  I still say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing and sometimes don’t do the right thing.

But it HAS made me more aware that what I do/don’t do/say/don’t say can either speak life or death to a struggling heart.

And I so want to speak life and courage to everyone I meet.

Before I lost Dominic, I know that I, like others who had never experienced the death of a child, undoubtedly said and did things that were hurtful instead of helpful.

I painfully remember sharing at a Thanksgiving women’s gathering and, meaning to encourage the ladies, said something like, “I think we are able to better face the big disappointments or trials in life, but find the daily drip, drip, drip of unfulfilled expectations to be a greater challenge.”  A bereaved mom in attendance set me straight (in a very kind and gracious manner!).

That exchange has come often to my mind in these months after burying my son. I wish I could go back and have a do-over.

Read the rest here:  Loving Well: Some Things Hurt

Life is Short, Be Swift to Love

Grief has worn away some of the sharp edges of my personality.

I’m still prone to impatience-especially when faced with incompetence or hateful behavior in others.

But I’m learning that walking gently through life is not only good for others, it’s good for ME.

Life IS short.  ‘

Not just the life of a child or teen or young adult cut down by accident or disease.

But even if I live my “threescore and ten” the Bible talks about, it will STILL be short.  Seventy, eighty, one hundred years set on the timeline of history or eternity is less than a pinpoint.

What do I want my legacy to be?  What do I want to leave behind for others to remember, to ponder, to carry in their hearts attached to my memory?

small things with great love

That’s easy.  I want my legacy to be love.

I want people to remember that I treated them with kindness, that I respected them as persons, that I reached out, reached down and never separated myself from them by false barriers, foolish divisions or fake measures of who is “better” and who is “worse”.

forget what you say 3

More than anything I want people to feel that I made their burden lighter, not heavier.

So much of life is hard. 

So many things happen for which there is no remedy. 

I can’t choose everything, but I can choose love.

Life is short and we have not much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark way with us. Oh, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.

– Henri Fredric Amiel

One Little Word 2018

I used to spend every New Year’s morning with my Bible, my thoughts and my Lord.

I wrote each family member’s name in my journal and waited for the Holy Spirit to give me a verse to pray for them for the next year.

I would end with my own name and ask God what good works He had planned for me.

When I look back over these journals I realize that what I had essentially been doing for decades was asking God for “One Little Word” to focus my energy, resources and attention each year.

I honestly believe that every human on the face of the Earth is here for a reason. They are not a random collection of cells and neurons. They are created in the image of an Almighty God to impact the people around them in specific ways.

So I challenge you to ask the God of the universe to give you One Little Word for 2018. And then hold every potential commitment up to that light to determine if it is really part of God’s plan for you this year.

For some of my hurting parent friends the word may be “healing” or “rest” and that’s just fine. For others it may be “endurance” or “perseverance” and that’s fine too.

It’s between you and God.

May you hear clearly and receive with open hands.

When You Think You Can’t Hold On

So many ways to be reminded of how hard it is to hold on in these days and weeks around Christmas.

If your heart is barely able to beat, the pressure to be “hap-hap-happy” can send you over the edge.

If your home is empty of cheerful voices, the constant barrage of commercials touting family togetherness can leave you feeling oh, so lonely.

Early sunsets and darker nights send feel-good hormones flying and leave a body aching for just a little relief from anxious and depressing thoughts.

SadGirlBeach

When you think you can’t hold on, let go.  

Let go of expectations-yours and other people’s.

Let go of traditions that no longer serve your heart or draw you closer to the Babe in the manger.

Let go of tons of baking or cooking or entertaining with perfect centerpieces and fragile china.

Let go of blasting Christmas music through the house.

Let go of shopping for the perfect gift or mailing all those cards.

candle and hand

Be still.

Light a candle in the darkness.

Sit quietly and see how even the faintest light can chase away the black of night.

And then hold your empty hands out to the God Who made you, the God Who loves you, the God Who longs to draw you to His heart and let Him fill you with hope.  

jesus-the-heart-of-christmas

There IS hope.

He came in the form of a Baby-weak and vulnerable just like us.

He KNOWS our pain.

He is not impressed with our busyness or our decorations or our presents piled high beneath the tree.  

He sees the heart.  He looks with mercy on a broken heart.  He is the Healer of hearts. 

He longs to heal yours.  

heals the broken hearted

 

 

Generations: Love Lasts

Today is my mama’s birthday.  

We won’t be celebrating with cake and ice cream, party streamers and funny hats.  But we will be celebrating that she is here with us for another turn of the calendar page.

Because 25 days ago she was taken by lifeflight to the hospital and we weren’t sure she would be.

I’ve been down here with my parents more than at my own home these past weeks.

I woke this morning in the house my great-grandmother lived in, my grandmother lived in and in which my parents now live.  I am the fourth generation to pad toward the kitchen in the dark, make the coffee and make my way toward the screened in front porch to talk to Jesus and watch the sunrise.

I’ve been thinking about not only the lives lived here, but the passing of time and those that have run ahead to heaven.

My great-grandfather was laid out in the living room.  As a curious three-year-old my daddy told me Papa Cox was “sleeping” when I asked, “why?”.

My great-grandmother buried two children -those tiny bodies are laid to rest in the churchyard next to the rest of my kin gone before.

My grandmother suffered a massive stroke standing at the kitchen counter making breakfast and never woke again.

I have buried a son and started a new plot in the churchyard near my own home in Alabama-the DeSimones will wait together for that glorious Day.

desimones uab family

Time doesn’t stop.  The world will turn and the sun will rise.  The years will pass and so, too, the generations.

It does no good to rail against the clock or the seasons.  

This is trite, but true:  Do not take the people you love for granted.  Do not assume that there will be a “next time” for saying the things that need to be said, for giving a hug, for speaking blessing.

Say it.

Do it.

Not because you are afraid of death, but because while you live, you choose LIFE, you choose LOVE.

So today I won’t worry that I haven’t had a chance to get Mama a present or that she doesn’t feel like eating cake.

I will focus instead on the fact that she is HERE-that I am HERE-and that we are together.

I will be thankful that I have had many opportunities these last weeks to make sure no words are left unsaid.  

I will rest assured that she knows she is loved.

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Stressed: Why Doesn’t My Head Just Explode?

No days are easy when you are this side of child loss.

There is the constant burden of sorrow and pain bearing down on my heart and mind 24/7.  Then there are the little (and not so little!) everyday bumps along the road of life.

But sometimes it’s not a bump, but a mountain that looms large.  Or it may be a sinkhole that opens up and swallows days and weeks before you even realize how much time has passed since you last drew a calm breath.

These past weeks have been like that.

From the night my mother was lifeflighted to the hospital until today, we spent a week and a half in hospital plus these past few days at home trying to get her stable, better and transitioned to a new regimen that will hopefully keep her reasonably well.

While every medical professional gave great care, the majority of responsibility is falling on my dad and myself.  And it’s a huge adjustment for everyone.  No more in and out to the field on the tractor.  No more quick trips into town-at 2 litres of oxygen per hour it will take one portable tank just for the round trip.

Doctor appointments need to be carefully scheduled and routed to minimize time away from home where there is an unlimited supply of oxygen.

I am learning that elder care is a huge challenge-one I thought I knew (in principle, though not by experience).

I was dreadfully wrong.

Just like child loss, until a single call or event takes your world from “I’m in control” to “I have lost all control”, it’s impossible to understand.

There is so much to keep track of, to manage, to watch for, and to do that I honestly feel like my head is about to pop off.

Add random phone calls, doctor appointments, home health visits and (oh yes!) Hurricane Irma-well, you get the picture.

So here’s to all my fellow sandwich generation peers.

And here’s a special shout-out to the ones whose broken hearts already limp along because they are missing a child they love and are now caring for ailing parents as well.

May we all reach out to the only One Who can strengthen us for this journey.

May we speak courage to one another.  

May we extend grace to ourselves because no matter how hard we try to pretend otherwise, we are human.

shame for being human